Now that LA has Ron Ron, it's a widely held belief that Kobe and company will be hoisting another trophy next season. Here's a list of some Big Ifs- what each contender would need to have happen in order to topple the champs.
Boston could win the title if KG reverts to his MVP-form of 2004. Pretty unlikely given his age and the severity of his recent knee injury.
Orlando could win the title if Vince Cancer learns to take good shots and play defense for the first time in his 12 year career. VC's always had the tools so why has his career been pockmarked by fadeaway 3s and total apathy on the defensive end? Dude's got no heart.
San Antonio could win the title if Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker stay healthy. It goes without saying that Tim Duncan would also have to put up typical Duncan numbers on both ends. That team is nothing without him at full strength.
Cleveland could win the title if Shaq reports to camp in shape and plays at least 75 games. Much of O'Neal's reputation as a lousy P&R defender is a result of showing up fat and lazy, year after year.
Portland could win the title if Greg Oden contends for Defensive Player Of The Year. In order for Oden to accomplish this tall task, he'll have to start and play at least 30 minutes a game. Hear that, Nate? No more starting Prezbo. Throw the kid in there and let him sink or swim. Leave him in the game when he picks up two fouls in the first. Make it a priority to get him as many minutes as possible.
Denver could win the title if Nene leads the league in rebounding. Actually, scratch that. Denver can't win the title. Who am I kidding? No team with a forward playing center ever wins a ring.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The 2004 Pistons had Ben Wallace at C. Depending on your point of view, this may or may not disprove my theory above.
I'm sure some of you are thinking "Where's Utah?" Or "What about Atlanta?" "The Suns have got a shot." This is probably because you live in those cities and have an unreasonable expectation for their success based on pure homerism. I'm sorry. Your team will win nothing next year. As usual. Enjoy your one (or possibly two) playoff series.
Pictured: KG circa 2004 accepting the Podoloff in a fancy lab coat